Monday, February 27, 2012
The sun slips just a little lower, deepening the shadows among the trees. Wish and Pike disappear into the darkness. Moments later the pair returns, leading a trio of shaggy ponies. Wish whispers in the ear of the smallest and it tosses its head, nodding until its cream colored mane falls across large dark eyes. The pony prances in place for a few moments, then canters across the clearing to halt before Keon. It cocks its head, watching the Dark Lord. It nickers, then turns its gaze on Mera.
"Da? Is that for me?"
Wish dances to the pony's side, followed by a paler version of the same creature.
"She is a Phouka." At Keon's sharp look, Wish smiles. "They want to carry us." She rests a hand on the copper colored pony's back. "Fae never lie. They promised no mischief, no malice. They wish to be part of this moment."
Keon stares into the eyes of his daughter's would-be mount. The Phouka turns its head to bare its throat to Keon. The other two Phoukas nod as if in agreement.
"No malice. No mischief.All three protected from harm when in your care. If any of you break faith, you will suffer the Dark Lord justice."
The Phoukas bow their heads. Wish waves her hand bringing bridles and saddles into being. Keon helps his daughter settle on the saddle and moves to his own stallion. Once mounted, he canters to the trees to open the gate. Dmitri joins him and they ride through onto the Shadow Path. The men move to either side, clearing the way for the others to join them.
Inari leads the others, pausing for a moment to look over the Path. A short distance away, a Cu Sith lies across the roadway. It raises its green shaggy head as the Ambassador turns her pale mount in its direction. The green hound surges to its feet as Inari rides closer. Tall as a bull, the creature wags its braided tail and falls into step off to one side of the group.
Mera's eyes widen. She looks up into the trees. The leaves shimmer in the breeze. Small eyes watch the group pass. A tiny creature, with comical monkeylike, features waves at Mera. The little girl waves back. With a tittering giggle the eyes disappear back into the shadows. Mera looks at Wish, who winks and points ahead to where Inari has turned towards another Gate.
"That is where we cross into Faery."
Inari looks back. Guunnar and Eite have moved closer, allowing Keon and Dmitri to join Inari at the head of the column. She opens the gate and the pair of warriors pass through, moving to guard the passage of the others. Once more the column passes through, the Cu Sith barks. Inari mutters something to the creature and it bounds away. The thunder of its passage slowly fades and Inari looks up into the brightness of a beautiful Faery day and breathes deeply.
Keon rolls his neck. He feels the muscles shift, moving as if an unrealized tension has slipped away. Dmitri salutes his commander and tugs his hood into place. as the two take their positions at the rear of the column, he murmurs, "Welcome Home, Lord Blackthorn."
Guunnar and Eite pull their hoods into place and move forward to canter beside the family.